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‘Stretching’ of the continents 56 million years drove global warming, study finds

Stretching of the continents 56 million years ago is likely to have caused one of the most extreme episodes of global warming in Earth’s history, new research suggests. 

During this time, the planet experienced an increase in temperature of 5-8°C (9-14°F), culminating in the Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum (PETM), which lasted about 170,000 years.

It caused the extinction of many deep-sea organisms and reshaped the course of evolution of life on Earth. 

Scientists studied the effects of global tectonic forces and volcanic eruptions during the period of environmental change almost 60 million years ago. 

They believe that the extensive stretching of the continental plates in the northern hemisphere – rather like the pulling of a toffee bar that thins and eventually separates –…

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